Tobin Wagstaff has traveled quite an interesting path: he founded a nonprofit music school, and, in a turn of events profiled on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, hobnobbed with rock royalty Kiss. All the while, Studio Percussion has been teaching pupils to tickle the ivories, strum the guitar, drum up a storm, and sing their favorite tunes, whether they’re jazz ballads or traditional Klingon folk songs. The instructors—all of whom remain active in the industry—help to whisk their pupils into the limelight during performances at UF sporting events, city music festivals, homecoming parades, and even family jam nights, during which participants take turns reciting their ancestral lineage to music.
North Florida Music Academy's music instructors teach more than 15 different instruments—ranging from piano and guitar to tuba and trombone—as well as vocal techniques during private and group lessons. With each instrument, the team employs tried-and-true methods that assist in scaling the learning curve, including the Hal Leonard Guitar Method and the Suzuki Method for the violin. Private lessons take place for 30 minutes, wherein aspiring virtuosoes will demonstrate their mastery of previous material and learn new techniques, while receiving a weekly progress report and recommendations for further advancement.
At Gifted University, young children have an opportunity to explore all the knowledge the world has to offer. Classes start as young as six months, teaching children dance, art, and foreign languages. After school programs complete a well-balanced education with engineering and science lessons alongside art and foreign language programs. Gifted University also offers dance, music, vocal lessons and private and group music lessons, and more. When they're not learning how to read music, kids can play with their friends in Giftedville, the school's indoor playground.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition? Gifted University is one of the only education-enrichment programs of its kind in the area. Most parents spend their weeks traveling to several locations and several programs, while Gifted University offers them all in one location.
Do you provide any materials? What should your students expect to bring? All your child needs to bring is his or her imagination, positive energy, and willingness to explore.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business? My daughters were actually the inspiration behind starting this business. We wanted them to have introductions to multiple art forms and subjects. I have struggled for years to find one program that offered everything in one place. So we created it.
What do you love most about your job? We love introducing children to the world of the performing arts and watching them explore, discover, and embrace their gifts. We also love working with children that maybe gifted in an academic subject and helping them to reach their highest potential.
A recent transplant to Altamonte Springs, dedicated pianist Joyce Lundeen has spent the last 30 years teaching students of all ages to coax melodies from the ivory keys. Initially unsatisfied with the instructional books on the market, she has published more than 50 of her own, which are used by piano teachers across the United States. In addition to learning to read and play music, students can hone improvisational skills and learn music theory.
Listening to music from a young age does more than help someone dance well enough to get on the Jumbotron during basketball games. It can also improve a child's brain development, social skills, and emotional connections. The staff at Grow and Sing Studios make it their mission to aid in the development of children through a wide variety of age-appropriate classes. Instructors lead students through activities steeped in song and rhythm, from the parent-baby drumming in Kindermusik Village to the group sing-alongs during Music for Aardvarks. They also teach piano lessons.